Heritage, Volume 11, Number 1, Winter 1993 Page: 18
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"We must find ways to make history more representative of who we are
as a nation. How do we explain all the people, all their lifeways over
hundreds of years in one textbook a year for 12 years?"
made learning more relevant and meaningful.
Students acted as researchers and
developed products that documented their
work. They closed the gaping hole between
the ages by communicating and
reanalyzing what they know to be true
about Texas and Border history.
Socorro High School student Angelica
Palacios found it difficult to believe that
the elders who live in her barrio, the people
she sees at the Quality Mart and the 100year-old
mission she attends on Sunday are
part of the history of the Border region.
Certain kinds of information have long
been omitted from the pages of our history
books, so it is not surprising that the youth
of this historically rich area are unable to
see the link between us and them and the
We decided to tackle this "missing link"
as part the oral history program. We began
by visiting various places the kids had driven
or walked past, but never knew anything
about. Archaeologists have been doing
massive testing, survey, and research, so we
tagged along on some expeditions to ask
questions and see what they had discovered.
Historians have also been scouring the
archives, and we read excerpts from 15th
century Spanish documents to piece the
Livorio Morales (this page) and Elizario Trujillo (page 19) share stories of their experiences with Socorro
High School students.
puzzle together. Then we began to link the
written word and the archaeological record
with the memories of the people. All
epochs have witnesses. And while there
has been a heavy reliance on the written
word, historians are beginning to realize
that oral tradition like story telling is a
valid form of historical documentation for
semi-literate and illiterate peoples. The
people of the Lower Valley and their ancestors
were not and are not all illiterate
people, but because they were "ordinary"
people--farmers, homemakers, dairy farmers,
sharecroppers, teachers, fruit packers,
factory workers, civil service employees--
they never recorded days, their work, their
thoughts. But it was time now to retrieve
those pieces of living that made this community
what it is today and to tie it into the
greater scheme of state, national, and
Appointments were made for on-campus
interviews, while some were conducted at
individuals' homes. We audio and video
taped recollections about all sorts of things,
from childhood memories to Pancho Villa
to irrigation and farming techniques. We
talked to many people in Socorro, San
Elizario, and Ysleta. Some Anglo, some
Hispanic; some with roots in Mexico, New
Mexico, and one in Norway. Most included
a family history in the Valley, though others
had come as young children. They all had
something to say about how they and their
ancestors had lived on this land, the things
they had done to get by, and the changes
they had seen.
Santiago Fresquez gave agriculturalists
something to think about when he told us
that farmers had crops at various distances
from the Rio Grande so as to avoid loss of
crops when the river flooded. His brother
Juan recalled that in 1918 when they had
an influenza epidemic in the Valley and
many people died, the aquifer was so high
that they could not dig too deep (for graves)
or otherwise they would have water seeping
through. Sometimes the water would
not come up right away, but by the time a
family brought the body, the water would
float the casket. They would have to stand
18 HERITAGE * WINTER 1993
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 11, Number 1, Winter 1993, periodical, Winter 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45415/m1/18/: accessed April 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.